Face painting is nothing unusual: you find it at all sorts of events, all over the world. But at the vide-grenier at Sossay on April 17th 2016, the face painter was unusually skilled. A few little boys were running around with zombie scars, but there was far more variety in the little girls' faces and many more wore face-paint. And, unlike the UK, no-one thought it in the slightest bit unusual that I should photograph them. A couple of times I actually asked, and on a couple of others, I just raised the camera. No-one complained.There probably are people with a fetish for little girls wearing face paint. In fact, there may well be whole pages dedicated to such things. In fact there probably are: I didn't want to Google and find out. But such people must be outnumbered millions to one by those who smile at the sight of children enjoying themselves.How much must a tiny minority be allowed to dictate the behaviour of a vast majority? 

Princess in a warm coat

I had already taken one picture before this, as the make-up artist was working on her face. Then the artist moved aside to recharge her brush and the little girl looked at me, which was when I took this. Quite honestly, I had thought the snowflake was too much; but then I realized that the girl was wearing a princess dress which appeared to have been inspired by Disney's "Frozen" and it made sense. Sort of. 

The consumerism is frightening. The film was released in late 2013 in France but two and a half years later the merchandise was still in countless shops: Frozen lunch-boxes and beakers, never mind the toys and clothes.  All children, and indeed all adults, have a need for fantasy, but it's hard not to question how much they should be handed on a plate, and how much they should make up for themselves.

At one extreme, you have "all you need is a piece of wood and a cardboard box". I'm not advocating that, because some toys such as my Space Outlaw ray-gun are wonderful. And all right, I know that's a boy's toy so my opinion is distorted. All I'm asking is where you reach the balance between too little and too much; and when it's quite a complicated-looking dress (look at that bodice) that doesn't look that suitable for playing in, I start having my doubts. Also, if you have enough imagination to feel like a princess when you're wearing a warm coat, you probably have enough imagination to feel like a princess in something a bit simpler and less expensive. 

Of course it's quite possible that 150 years ago a very similar little girl would have been barefoot and dressed in ragged hand-me-downs, but equally obviously, it isn't a binary choice between rags and excess. Another question that immediately raised itself, however, was who made this dress. Disney could hardly neglect to source all official merchandise ethically, but I could not help wondering about some of the knock-offs. Were they made by little girls no older than this one, being paid a pittance? 

In any case, how much consumerist tat do we need? On a finite planet, infinite growth is not a feasible model.

Tigress with glasses

I'm really not sure about that tongue, but otherwise, I adore this make-up. Maybe it's just that she has the perfect face for it or maybe it's her wonderful self-confidence in not taking off her glasses: but then, what sort of glasses would suit a young tigress as well as these? In a few years she'll be sure she's too old for face painting, and in a sense she'll be right; but I hope she keeps that wonderful self confidence. 

Actually, Sossay was the second vide-grenier we went to that day. The first was at La Roche Rigault, where we bought a cast iron pan for cooking galettes (Breton buckwheat pancakes) for 2€; a brand-new unused cordless steam iron for 5€; and a new, unworn pair of Isotoner gloves for 3€. The last are very hard to find new, and they're about 15-20€ when you do, and Frances finds them comfort her hands greatly. Better still, they had the best fouées we've ever had: so good that I took some more pictures to add to the existing piece. Our total expenditure for the day, including food but excluding diesel, was 24€: hardly wild extravagance.

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